Water Damage Books. Tips from professionals
A flood or other disaster can lead to a lot of water damage. Some damage is easy to fix, but water-damaged books can be a real challenge. Books are sheets of paper sewn or bound together with glue, and means trying to salvage fixing paper clog up together or combat glue that dissolves.
Water damaged books:
Books are prone to damage, especially when exposed to water for a long time. The solution to bring them back consists of two steps. The first is to dry the book, then bring it back to its original state. This involves dealing with pages that are stuck together and with mold. Great care is needed as books exposed to water for long are prone to mold, and the glue holding the book pages together might come off.
This blog post will explain both the drying step and the step to bring it back to its original state in more detail. I will also explain how to freeze wet books if you want to stabilize them and deal with mold books. With it, you should recover a large percentage of your books when damaged by water.
- 1 How to save a wet book
- 2 Phase 1: Drying books or paper
- 2.1 ● How to dry a wet book fast
- 2.2 ● Freezing wet books
- 2.3 ● How to dry a wet book microwave
- 3 Phase 2: Bring back the book to its original state
How to save a wet book
Saving a wet book requires patience and skill. Identifying the source of the water should be the first step. If the books are exposed to dirty water, it will be more challenging to restore them compared to those exposed to clean water.
Also, evaluate the degree of wetness the book has succumbed. This applies to whether it’s a minor over-the-page spill or a full soak on all the covers and pages. These two main factors determine if you can proceed with the salvaging process or not. If yes, you will proceed to the drying process.
Saving a wet book consist of two phases. The first is to dry the book, and the second is to bring it back to its original state.
If you feel insecure about doing this, you can always ask a professional for help.
Phase 1: Drying books or paper
The first phase is to dry the book. Take your time to dry. If you do not have time for the drying process, you could stabilize the book by freezing it.
● How to dry a wet book fast
There are several ways of drying a wet book. Unfortunately, each of the processes requires considerable attention and patience. Nonetheless, air drying has been lauded as the best way of dealing with the wetness menace. Besides, it is faster when compared to most of the other processes.
The steps to follow when air-drying wet books are:
– Collect the needed materials for air-drying wet books
The materials one requires for this procedure are:
- White rags
- Plain paper towels
- Electric fan
– Step 1: Move it to a dry place
Remove the book from the wet area and put it in a dry safe place to prevent re-soaking or re-spillage. Reduce the amount of water in the book by carefully shaking it. Hold the book tightly when it’s closed and shake out the excess water.
– Step 2: Wipe the cover
Get a clean, dry rag or a paper towel and gently wipe down the cover. Here, you are only wiping the cover, not the pages. Papers are very fragile, especially when exposed to pressure.
– Step 3: Put the book on a plain dry rag
Use a white plain dry rag/ washcloth or paper towels lay them on a clean flat surface, and lay the book on top. The role of the rag and paper towel is to continue absorbing water. Why plain white and not just any rag? This prevents damaging the book even further by leaking dye from the fabric.
– Step 4: Leave it upright
Ensure you lay the book on the rag and sheets of paper towels for a while. Afterward, place the book in an upright position to allow water to flow into the base of the book.
– Step 5: Place paper towels between the front and back cover
Lastly, place paper towels or rags only between the front and back covers. This is tricky for books with many sheets since some water may be left in between the pages. Firmly press down the covers or put a heavy object on top, such as a clean brick. If the weather outside is fine, the book can be taken out and left there for a while. However, if such is not the case, use an electric fan in the house.
● Freezing wet books
Freezing wet books does not completely dry the wet books. Nonetheless, it does that at a very slow rate. It’s more of a ‘First Aid’ measure in stabilizing the book and inhibiting the growth of molds. Freezing is prevalent in cases where one lacks the time or probably buys some time before taking the wet book to the professionals.
The book can safely remain in a frozen state for a couple of weeks. The materials required to freeze wet books are:
- Paper towels or any other plain absorbent material
- Ziplock bag
Follow these steps:
– Step 1: Remove excess water
Remove the excess water by placing the wet book on a plain absorbent material such as paper towels and allowing the water to drain.
– Step 2: Wrap and seal the book
Wrap and seal the book. To safeguard the book from the harsh low temperatures, wrap it in a paper towel, then put it in a zip-lock bag and seal. Do not forget to label it; we wouldn’t want curious people to remove the bag from the freezer. Leave some air and some space between the pages.
– Step 3: Place the book in the freezer
Place the book in the freezer on its spine. The time it takes for a proper freeing is dependent on the size of the book. Ensure to check once in a few weeks. If the book is no longer soggy, remove it from the freezer.
– Step 4: Let the book defrost in the bag
Allow the book to reach room temperature while still in the bag, once out of the freezer. Afterward, please remove it from the bag and dispose of away the paper towels. After that, dry the book by following the air-drying method.
● How to dry a wet book microwave
The methods used in drying wet books usually are tedious and slow. Wet books drying in a microwave can be considered a fast way. Do not microwave a wet book unless you want to cook it or burn the pages in far more situations.
However, this method is not the best way to dry wet books since it is bulky compared with a few sheets of paper. Seeing that a book is bound with glue, it may dissolve when put in the microwave. When it’s a single piece of paper, place it on the microwave for about 15 seconds to allow water to evaporate, then heavily press it with a flat, heavy item to deter it from wrinkling.
Phase 2: Bring back the book to its original state
Phase two is to bring back the book to its, or close to, its original condition. Of course, this is not always possible and depends significantly on the type of book, the water damage, and the followed process.
This includes how to deal with stuck pages and mold.
● How to fix water damaged books
When water-soaked books have been salvaged and brought back to life, the next crucial step is to fix the damaged books. Keep in mind that these books may have wrinkled pages, pages that are stuck together, binding glue that has dissolved, and the covers unwarping.
Ironing is the best way of dealing with Wrinkled books. Therefore, look for a non-steam iron box. Stuck pages are separated by incorporating a thin, rigid sheet or hot water steam. For binding of the pages, the residues left with the old glue are carefully scraped out, and then another layer of glue is laid out. The same applies to both the top and bottom cover.
● How to fix a wet book that has dried
How to fix a wet book that has dried is a significant problem. The solution might surprise you, making it wet again. For this, use a spray bottle and spray a fine water mist on the book. This should immediately be followed up by ironing the pages. Always use a non-steam iron for this.
● Water damaged book pages stuck together
How difficult can it be to unstick pages bound together in a book? This is a common question, especially when two or more pages are clogged together after water damage. If the pages are firmly held together, they may be susceptible to tear. At any time, no force should be used.
However, if the extent is low, a strong, thin, and hard sheet of material can be used. A file cover, a spatula, or even a knife can be used. Start with the area that has the most surface in contact. Then, carefully insert the hard sheet between the two pages and slowly slide it up from the bottom.
When the extent is great, steam the pages by placing the book on a wire rack, then position it above a pan of hot boiling water. The pages will automatically soften and, in the process, separate.
● Water damaged books mold
Paper is derived from wood. Paper is an organic matter since it’s mainly composed of cellulose fiber. When in contact with water and humidity, paper attracts molds to the book. This is the best environment for molds, using cellulose as a food source.
What are molds anyway? In simple terms, molds are fungi that can be harmful to humans and animals. Therefore, as soon as one notices the presence of molds on the wet books, they should be dealt with promptly. To ensure the safe removal of molds from the water damaged books, one must follow the steps below:
– Step 1: Sort the papers
Sorting out papers is the first step. Identify the papers infested with molds, then separate them from the rest. Do this in a dry area and most preferably outside. Note that molds can be harmful; wear gloves.
– Step 2: Let it dry in the sun for 30 minutes
Lay papers outside in the sun for about 30 minutes or so. This should dry out the molds hence turning them into powder.
– Step 3: Remove mold
Remove the powdery mold from the papers. This is achieved by using a brush, say, your make-up brush or an unused toothbrush. Wear glasses and a face mask while brushing off the molds into a paper towel. Dispose of the mask, gloves, and brushes.